As Los Angeles officials were wasting taxpayer dollars to virtue-signal about Alabama's abortion ban, the homeless crisis in the city increased by 16% while the overall county saw an increase of 12%.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of people now living on the streets, in vehicles, or in shelters steadily increased throughout the past year, following a small decrease in the previous year.
"The annual point-in-time count, delivered to the Board of Supervisors, put the number of homeless people just shy of 59,000 countywide," reports the outlet. "Within the city of Los Angeles, the number soared to more than 36,000, a 16% increase."
Officials largely blame the problem on the lack of affordable housing while vowing to pledge more taxpayer dollars into supposedly "fixing" the problem. So far, government programs have done little to help. For instance, the city's Measure H sales tax from 2017 barely scratched the surface of the problem by helping to get roughly 20,000 people off the streets only to be outpaced by the number of people that were becoming homeless.
"If we don't change the fundamentals of housing affordability, this is going to be a very long road," Peter Lynn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, told the Times. "If we don't get ahead of affordability, we're going to be very hard pressed to get ahead of homelessness."
“Overall, the service portion of the effort on mental health, substance use, the issue of housing, rent subsidies, those are important and we should stay the course," County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told the Times. "Where we have to work much harder is in the area of affordable housing."
Ridley-Thomas admitted that the numbers are deeply discouraging following the small downturn in homelessness that the previous year showed.
"At this point of unprecedented wealth in the county of Los Angeles, we are equally confronted with unprecedented poverty manifesting itself in the form of homelessness," County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told the Times. "Last year's count, we felt we were trimming in a way that would suggest we were getting our arms around this. And yet this year we are pretty well stunned by this data."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has already pledged another $42 million to invest in "street-based services," though county supervisors are less-than-optimistic that the tide will be stemmed anytime soon.
"The residents are seeing more encampments, more people sleeping on the sidewalks in dirty, unhealthy and heartbreaking conditions," Board chair Janice Hahn told the Times. "They are frustrated by this problem. We need to give people answers."
Though Ridley-Thomas feels the problem has worsened, he also believes that government programs have not been entirely ineffective. "Overall, the service portion of the effort on mental health, substance use, the issue of housing, rent subsidies, those are important and we should stay the course," he said. "Where we have to work much harder is in the area of affordable housing."
The demographics among the homeless have also shifted significantly, with city officials now reporting a full 24% increase among people 18 to 24 years old. Also, the city saw a 17% increase in the chronically homeless, meaning people who have been living on the street or shelter for more than a year.